You may recognize Manny Cabo from his memorable performances on both The Voice and La Voz. You may also be familiar with Manny’s extensive portfolio of photography. And even more so, you may know the New Jersey native through his work in the community. A true renaissance man, Manny Cabo is hitting his stride, and he’s about to glide all the way to The Boulevard event center in North Bergen for this year’s “A Very Spanglish Christmas” on December 17.
Recently, AQ sat down with Manny to chat about all of his artistic and charitable endeavors.
Manny, you’re a very multifaceted artist, but let’s talk about what I believe is your first love: singing. When did you first begin your career as a vocalist?
Well luckily for me I grew up in a very diversified and musically oriented home. I wasraised on a steady dose of the Beatles, The Dave Clark 5, Motown, Los Condes, Beethovenand even Tango (Juan Darienzo). You can always hear my parents singing around thehouse so it’s no surprise how I was easily influenced to use my vocal skills. The ironicthing is that I didn’t really start singing until my late 20s. Initially, I sat behind the skinsas a power drummer breaking many a sticks for about 10 years and joined various garagebands as nothing more than solid jam sessions where I sang tons of backing vocals and thenone day as fate would have it our singer at that time became a little ill and I jumped in tofront a few songs and I developed a real taste for the lead singer role and the rest, as theysay, was history.
Who were some of your influences as a vocalist?
That’s always a tough question because I appreciate so many styles but If I had to choosessome specific names that sculptured my style I would have to say: John Lennon, ChrisCornell, Freddy Mercury, Marvin Gaye, Marc Anthony, David Coverdale and MarioBustos.
You’ve appeared on both NBC’s The Voice as well as Telemundo’s La Voz. Can you describe those experiences on a personal level for our readers?
Well there’s no doubt that they were both pivotal moments in my career that changed my life and assisted me in showcasing and catapulting my voice on an international level. It truly is an honor to be the first New Jersey resident to Be highlighted on two major network singing competitions and in two different languages no less. It’s a challenge just to make it through the audition process having to compete against 40,000 other incredibly gifted musicians I meant to do it twice is inconceivable but I for one have always been a big risk taker and have embraced all the challenges that this life has thrown at me especially as an artist and if you truly love your craft a have a passion for it then it’s the only way to succeed. You simply have to go all in, master your craft, believe in your abilities, put your blinds on and give it hell. The one thing I’m truly grateful for being on the shows is that it was never about singing, sure I love performing and it’s obvious that I love singing but the ultimate gift that I was able to take away from these competitions was that it gave me my purpose to use my voice not only has a musical instrument but to inspire my fellow artists, our youth and anyone I came into contact with to not only dream of the life you want but to live it. I can’t tell you how many countless hours I spend counseling my family of contestants and explaining to them the importance of living in the moment and enjoying the whole journey. For me it was never about 90 seconds that You were performing in front of millions but embracing the entire process: remembering our rehearsals, heartfelt dialogues between all of us, laughing at our mistakes but also rising together to give the world the best performances within our capabilities. At the end of the day that’s what life is all about embracing our existence and being grateful for every day and the amazing opportunities that were given to make the world a better place than when we arrived. What better way than doing it through music the international language of unity.
You spend a lot of time in the studio, Manny. Can you talk a little bit about your most recent recordings, and tell us where listeners can find your music?
The studio for me is definitely a place of solace. It’s where I can buy my heart and my voice to deliver something meaningful to the world and it’s so important to have the right team and luckily for me I’ve been doing this long enough and have found the right staff to help and best represent my musical vision. My last EP, STRATOSPHERIC, which by the way, was influenced by Pharell Williams, who on the show told me in front of the world that my voice was stratospheric and that I should go make an album and influence the world. Well I didn’t make an album, that’s coming in 2020, but I did put forth four songs that I undoubtedly feel best represent my style and my sound and I was fortunate enough to win multiple awards in the independent artist world with it. I co-wrote these songs with two dear friends Michael Frio and Leigh and who will also be featured on 4 of the 11 songs in my latest up-and-coming album that begins production in January 2020. Two other songs that I co-wrote with singer-songwriter Bonnie Warren in Nashville also afforded me multiple awards for my humanitarian interests in bringing awareness to the toxic narratives of bullying, hate and suicide especially among our youth. “Wear Your Words” was inspired by a true story about a young girl who was bullied so severely that she literally attached post-its on her body of every word that she was maliciously teased with and the song was recognized and heralded as a powerful representation of our troubled youth by the writers at Patch. Hate has no Home Here is a song that describes my stance and worldly convictions of learning to appreciate ourselves as human beings and learning to accept one another despite our differences in Race, Color, Socio economic Status or religious beliefs. We are one race “The Human Race” and we all need to stop taking ourselves and our ego’s so seriously because it’s truly childish, immature, and ignorant—PERIOD. No one on this planet is better anyone else. We are all Beautifully unique with distinguished gifts we have been given to offer one another and like I say in the song “Just give me a chance,” says it all. Bonnie and I are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with legendary Producer/ Engineer David Browning who’s worked with the likes of Katy Perry, CC Winans, Amy Grant, NFL, who helped bring these songs to life.
Music isn’t your only love—you’re also a skilled photographer. When did you first start to become interested in photography?
That was all my dad’s doing. He was always an avid snap shooter, photographing mysister nine all throughout childhood, my baseball games and all family reunions sonaturally I took an interest to that as well. Before departing for Florida on a baseballscholarship you Gave me an incredible parting gifts which was his entire suite of lenses anda Minolta X 700 SLR I’m from there I just started mastering my craft delving into everystyle photography until I decided that editorial and fashion editorial photography was myniche. Today I predominantly maximize my time working directly with record labels,magazines and music industry related entities as a music photographer focusing on bands,solo artists and their visual branding needs for album artwork, Ep and single releases orsimple promo material with the occasional modeling portfolio, senior portrait orengagement shoot in between. For me all photography is awesome photography and I’mfortunate enough to have another outlet to express my creativity.
You’ve done a lot of fashion and modeling photography—what fascinates you most about the human composition, as well as apparel?
That’s a great question unfortunately it’s not just one answer for me. I actually enjoy theentire creative process as a whole. From the initial campaign idea, to the creation of thestories that best represent the product, model or artist… to the challenges of lighting andcomposition. I love it all. It doesn’t matter if I’m photographing an artist for their nextrelease, fine art nude for a gallery, or a model for the next designers dream campaign.Being able to capture moments in time that identify our visions and our styles is such aluxury and one that I am truly grateful for because not only do they sustain my career asan artist but it helps build brands of other artists as well nothing that they were all meanstogether to contribute to each other’s creative process.
You’re headlining this year’s “A Very Spanglish Christmas” show at The Boulevard event center in North Bergen. How excited are you for the show and what can fans expect?
Well it’s always a great time when you get to share the stage with multiple renowned artistswho bring something uniquely different to the stage. That night will be filled with comedyfrom Puerto Rican native laugh specialist Josue “Comedy” Torres, who’s middle name saidit all followed by the versatile and flamenco talents of Gabriel Muñoz and a style of guitarthat I truly relish and closing the night will be myself where I will be performing songs thatI had the privilege of performing on The Voice and La Voz, Arenas and venues across thecountry as well as some originals and some killer covers from all types of genres. It willundoubtedly be a fun filled evening especially those that are bilingual in Spanish andEnglish because the term Spanglish has a plethora of comedic connotations to it… just askmy friends trying to understand my onslaught of mixed Spanish and English conversationswith my parents… oh yeah it was always a sure treat and the funny thing is that I’m sureit’s all relative in any language which is pretty awesome anything about it.
You’re very active in the community—can you talk about some of the charity work you’ve done throughout New Jersey and beyond?
For me it’s always been about kids and animals. Our youth are essentially our future rockstars, world leaders and influencers and guiding them to be confident in themselves moreimportantly loving themselves and in believing in who they are is at the top of the list forme. As I said earlier I’m a big advocate against bullying, hate and suicide and these trulyare toxic narratives that need to be continuously addressed which is why I am continuouslyin contact with many anti-bullying organizations and thankfully through my music it givesme the ability to do it on a grander and global scale. I’m continuously commissioned tospeak at schools, perform in hospitals for a wonderful organization called Musicians OnCall where I wish many more musicians would donate their time and creative skill and Isupport various autistic organizations as well. Hopefully with more fame and success I cangive even more of my time to such causes. As for my affinity for animals that’s due to mymom. I can’t tell you how many animals combined we’ve owned and saved throughout mylife from squirrels, pigeons, raccoons, turtles, dogs, cats, and the list goes on. Myphilosophy toward my affinity for animals is quite simple. They were here way before wewere and they don’t have the ability to speak with us so the only thing we can do is live inpeace together and protect them as well. Animals have always brought me peace and joyand more people should give them a chance as well and be a little bit more cognizant ofprotecting our wildlife by keeping this planet clean and stop invading their habitats forcommercial gain. It’s selfish heartless and egotistical to think we’re the only ones that exist.
Thanks, Manny. Lastly, as an artist, what do you have planned for 2020?
That’s an exciting one for me and you couldn’t have asked it at a better time. I have a brand-new album in the works become publishing my first book “That’s Enough” which talks about my trials tribulations, revelations and everything between over this past year offers so much value to my fellow artists. Naturally I’m planning tons of live performances and perhaps a small tour on the West Coast. So I will be looking for some killer, professional, dedicated and committed musicians, and brand ambassadors to join the team. I’ve got tons of Branding and Music shoots in line for 2020 and my YouTube channel “Mojo for musicians” has 30 episodes projected by Midsummer to assist and inspire my fellow musicians to pursue their dreams as well… so I’m truly excited about everything going on with the Manny Cabo brand and hopefully your readers will jump on board and become part of the #MannyPack as well.
Be sure to catch Manny Cabo at The Boulevard event center in North Bergen for this year’s “A Very Spanglish Christmas” on December 17!